COVID-19 budget challenges

November 6, 2020

This message was sent to faculty and staff at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dear Wolf Pack Family,

I am writing today to share how we are preparing for future decisions related to COVID-19 budget challenges. This week, the Governor’s Finance Office announced that it has sent a memo to executive branch directors and agency heads directing all state agencies to prepare proposed budget reserves of 12 percent for each year of the upcoming 2021-23 biennium.

Our reality given this request is that we must proactively plan for any possible type of future budget reduction scenarios, particularly given the persistence of COVID-19 throughout Nevada. As you are well aware, this impacts both our general fund appropriations from the State of Nevada as well as our self-supporting activities including residence life, parking, and continuing education.

Let me first acknowledge the sacrifices you have made since the pandemic first hit. Whether it was shifting to remote delivery for University operations in the early days of the pandemic, implementing budget reductions that were requested by a special session of the Nevada State Legislature this summer, or safely and thoughtfully re-opening our campus for the fall semester, the students, faculty and staff of our institution have shown remarkable patience, understanding and resilience.

The University’s decision-making process will be similar to what I emphasized as governor of the State of Nevada navigating the Great Recession a decade ago: We will work collaboratively, sharing ideas, with transparency and with open lines of communication, in order to protect the mission of our University. Our efforts are ongoing to save every dollar and avoid non-urgent expenses for the foreseeable future.

This includes:

  • Engaging our Deans, Directors and student leadership to determine the best ways to minimize budget reduction impacts on our core missions
  • A hiring freeze, implemented during the spring 2020 semester, will remain in effect for the remaining of the fiscal year
  • The Board of Regents will be meeting on Nov. 13 to discuss the plan to implement a series of furlough days for the remainder of the fiscal year
  • We are studying the feasibility of closing selected buildings on campus and limiting on-campus activity between the period of Nov. 30 and Jan. 25 in an effort to save utility costs.

As we look at defensive measures like the ones listed above, it is important to note that all of you can play an important role in preserving our budget if/when we are presented with additional budget cuts. Please be part of the solution. Creative solutions are encouraged, as are suggestions for budgetary savings.

We are planning a University-wide meeting via Zoom on Nov. 18 to bring all of us together to discuss this issue as well as our ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in order to keep the people of our campus safe and healthy. More information about this meeting will be made available soon.

Please look out for one another. Reach each out to your fellow colleagues regularly. Provide an encouraging ear when needed. If you are worried about someone or are having difficulties yourself, remember the University has numerous resources to help, including Counseling Services.

Sincere regards,

Brian Sandoval